Recently a top sportswoman was quoted as saying that she felt the same in her fifties as she did in her thirties; I'm guessing many people would echo her sentiments. And as the baby boomer generation hit their fifties, and 34% of the population are now aged fifty or more, we're all anticipating living longer, fitter, fulfilling lives. For many of us the way we experience ageing and middle age has become a more fluid and relaxed affair. Getting older appears to have fewer defined parameters and stereotypes associated with ageing.
How many of us now look in the mirror and see an elderly person looking back at us? With the ready availability of hair colouring, access to improved diet and health care, and the choice of many non-invasive surgical treatments we're able to chase the years away with relative ease. Remaining interested and keeping in touch with what's happening in the world keeps us young in outlook, connected and it's never been easier.
Fashion, too, is more inclusive as fashion houses appreciate that older people are a lucrative market to target. Leisure activities and sportswear geared to people with a surfeit of leisure time and disposable income is a valuable source of custom. Many older people are inclined to take up sport, golf, are keen to travel more and enjoy a full social life. There's demand for an attractive wardrobe to support that lifestyle.
An increasingly large percentage of the population are self-employed, which allows for greater freedom in planning their diaries, with the option to adapt and change how they apply their commitment to work. It means that retirement does not have to occur at a pre-determined age or time in life; winding down can be incorporated as and when required.
Then, there are those people who have perhaps waited until their fifties for their children to leave home or to start the process of ending an unhappy relationship. This decision will prompt significant financial and domestic upheaval, but often provides an eagerly anticipated new start to life.
For some, financial pressure may have eased as they've become older, with the mortgage paid off, the children's education finished and perhaps a pension starting to pay out. Others may still need or want to work; earning money might be an important consideration, plus the routine and social side of work brings structure and social interaction into their life.
Feeling younger than our years is about both mental and physical activity and stimulus. The University of the Third Age is one organisation that provides interesting courses and events for older people, but many training courses which support hobbies, arts and crafts as well as retraining for professional qualifications are all available to people of a certain age. They provide routine, purpose, challenge, as well as opportunities for social interaction and friendship. Mental and physical exercise, from walking, yoga, sport to quizzes and stimulating conversation are all crucial in helping to keep us young.
As we get older some people may have started to experience physical or health-related limitations, but this does not need to necessitate closing the door on a satisfying and fulfilling life. Different levels of support in the home can be tailored to suit each individual's needs, from meal delivery, cleaning services, through to companionship and overnight care. Access to online can bring so much, including family, friendship, shopping, work, training courses and entertainment readily into the home, as and when required.
Down-sizing is an attractive option for many once their children have left home and are committed to living their lives independently. Doing this may well release some capital and bring less responsibility in terms of maintenance and overheads. Reducing financial stress is an important way to keep us young, healthy and engaged in living an active life.
Some people may use later life to revisit an interest from their earlier years that they chose to abandon or were unable to follow through. Or later in life may be a good time to set up a new business interest, a consultancy maybe where there's the freedom to pursue a new, satisfying route to success.
For others, they've drawn up a bucket list of things they want to do, places they want to visit whilst they're still fit and able to enjoy them. Many tour operators have adventure trips or long-stay options for those who have the time, money and inclination to take up these opportunities and it's a lovely way to fill the colder months with activity, warmth and a comfortable lifestyle.
The saying ‘health is wealth' is especially true as we get older, with many people being fitter, having more disposable income, ready and able to enjoy the freedom that comes with less responsibility. Caring for grandchildren may be one way to enjoy some days, but many in their later years also have busy diaries, filled with plans, clubs and social events. Keeping active and interested, being open and receptive to new opportunities in life is a major antidote to ageing.